While the consultation of authorities had been no less thorough, his style had become more free and less self-conscious; and the epic qualities of the theme were such as to call forth in the highest degree his powers of picturesque narration.
Although the diffusion of epic poetry in England did not actually inspire any new chansons de geste, it developed the taste for this class of literature, and the epic style in which the tales of Horn, of Bovon de Hampton, of Guy of Warwick (still unpublished), of Waldef (still unpublished), and of Fulk Fitz Warine are treated, is certainly partly due to this circumstance.
In 1872 appeared Love is Enough, structurally the most elaborate of his poems for its combination of the epic and dramatic spirits; and in the autumn he began to translate the shorter Icelandic sagas, to which his enthusiasm had been directed by two inspiring journeys to Iceland..
His Homer and the Epic appeared in 1893; a new prose translation of The Homeric Hymns in 1899, with essays literary and mythological, in which parallels to the Greek myths are given from the traditions of savage races; and his Homer and his Age in 1906.
As regards Vishnu, the epic poems, including the supplement to the Mahabharata, the Harivamsa, supply practically the entire framework of legendary matter on which the later Vaishnava creeds are based.
And accordingly it is exactly in connexion with these two incarnations of Vishnu, especially that of Krishna, that a new spirit was infused into the religious life of the people by the sentiment of fervent devotion to the deity, as it found expression in certain portions of the epic poems, especially the Bhagavadgita, and in the Bhagavatapurana (as against the more orthodox Vaishnava works of this class such as the Vishnupurana), and was formulated into a regular doctrine of faith in the Sandilya-sutra, and ultimately translated into practice by the Vaishnava reformers.
As to the creative acts, we may admit that the creation of light does not form one of them in the epic (cf.
The goddess Irnina (a form of Ishtar, q.v.) in revenge kills Eabani, and the balance of the epic is taken up with Gilgamesh's lament for his friend, his wanderings in quest of a remote ancestor, Ut-Napishtim, from whom he hopes to learn how he may escape the fate of Eabani, and his finally learning from his friend of the sad fate in store for all mortals except the favourites of the god, like Ut-Napishtim, to whom immortal life is vouchsafed as a special boon.
Gilgamesh becomes a god, and in certain portions of the epic clearly plays the part of the sungod of the spring-time, taking the place apparently of Tammuz or Adonis, the youthful sun-god, though the story shows traits that differentiate it from the ordinary Tammuz myths.
Till the appearance of Ennius, Roman literature, although it had produced the epic poem of Naevius and some adaptations of Greek tragedy, had been most successful in comedy.